Warwickshire Rural Hub
Legislation & Regulation
Code of Practice for the Welfare of Laying Hens is now in force
The new Code of Practice for the Welfare of Laying Hens and Pullets has now come into force. Defra consulted on the code earlier this year and then laid it before Parliament on 5 June. It applies to England only and replaces the Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock: Laying Hens, which was issued in 2002 which will be revoked on the same date.
You can view the new Code of Practice here.
Updated information on riparian rights
Updated information on your responsibilities and rules to follow for watercourses on or near your property, and permissions you need to do work around them, have been placed on the Gov.uk website. Visit the link below to view the information.
England is now an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone
As from 18 January 2018 England has been declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone and all keepers of poultry and other captive birds are required to follow prescribed bio-security measures. Keepers of over 500 birds are required to follow enhanced measures.
To view the measures please use the link below.
Updated booklet on Cross Compliance in 2018 is now available.
The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have published an updated ‘Guide to cross compliance in England 2018’.
To download your copy please use the website below.
New rules for fertilizer management to protect water quality
From April 2018 all farmers in England will need to follow a new set of farming rules for water. New regulations will now be made which will give these rules legal force from then. The rules will:
• promote good practice in managing fertilisers and manures through eight rules covering planning and use, storage and application of fertilisers and manures and soil erosion measures
• encourage land managers to take reasonable precautions to prevent diffuse pollution from runoff or soil erosion
• require soil tests at least every 5 years on cultivated land
• protect land within 5 metres of watercourses from significant soil erosion by preventing poaching by livestock.
Further details can be found on the website below.
Enhanced TB control measures
From November 2017 enhanced TB control measures will be introduced to reduce the risk posed by inconclusive skin test reactors. This follows on from a consultation held in 2016.
All inconclusive reactors (IRs) in the High Risk Area (HRA) and Edge Area (and in TB breakdown herds in the Low Risk Area) that have a negative result on re-testing will remain restricted for the rest of their life to the holding in which they were found. The only permitted off movements for such animals will be to slaughter (either directly or via an Approved Finishing Unit).
To release resolved IRs from life-long restrictions, farmers will have the option of interferon gamma blood testing (paid for by the animal owner), subject to securing prior approval from APHA.
If a resolved IR tests negative to the gamma test, the movement restrictions on the animal will be lifted and it could move freely (unless whole herd movement restrictions apply).From November 2017 enhanced TB control measures will be introduced to reduce the risk posed by inconclusive skin test reactors. This follows on from a consultation held in 2016.
Warwickshire re-classified as fully in the Edge Area for TB
Following a public Defra TB consultation held in 2016, and an informal consultation held in October 2017, Defra has announced enhanced cattle measures in the Edge Area; which will take effect from January 2018.
The changes from January 2018 include re-classification of Edge Area counties. The following part Edge, part High Risk Area split counties will be re-classified as fully in the Edge Area
Warwickshire and Oxfordshire
East Sussex, Derbyshire and Cheshire
Government announces plans to introduce trickle irrigation licensing
Defra has announced plans to end water abstraction licensing exemptions in England and Wales. It is expected that these changes will be made shortly, opening a two year abstraction licence application window on 1 January 2018.
It is estimated that 5,000 existing operations will require an abstraction licence for the first time and expected that most applicants will successfully secure abstraction licences that meet their historic needs. Exempt operators such as trickle irrigators will have two years to submit their licence application with effect from 1 January 2018. The licence determination process must be completed within five years of the application window opening.
NVZ derogations 2018
The application window for NVZ derogations 2018 closes on 29 December 2017. The grassland derogation is a specific allowing additional nitrogen applications from livestock manure in a NVZ. It increases the 170kg/ha N per year limit to 250kg/ha N per year for grazing livestock manure only.
To apply call an EA National Customer Contact Centre. Farmers with a 2017 derogation will need to reapply for 2018.
Transitional arrangements for first-time NVZ designations
If your holding is designated as an NVZ for the first time in 2017, transitional arrangements will apply to give you time to adjust your farming practice. For these holdings the Action Programme will be phased in with some requirements beginning on 1 January 2018 and others from 31 July 2019.
For further information visit the Defra website.
New Stewardship measures on slug pellets
New stewardship measures have been introduced on the use of slug pellets to minimise environmental impacts and protect water. These include not laying pellets within 10 metres of a field boundary or watercourse or applying when heavy rain is forecast.
For the full list of measures please visit the website below.
Reminder on water abstraction licences
If your current water abstraction licence is due to expire, and you want to continue to abstract, you need to apply for a new licence at least 3 months before the existing licence expires. The Environment Agency will only renew your licence if:
• your abstraction continues to be environmentally sustainable;
• you can demonstrate that you have a continuing need for the water;
• that you will use water efficiently.
For more information on applying for a water abstraction licence, please visit the website below.
Environment Agency have announced that they are checking compliance with abstraction licence conditions. These checks are via reactive, unannounced visits to assess compliance with ‘Hands-Off Flow’ (HOF) restrictions. If your licence contains a HOF condition you are required to stop or reduce your abstraction when river levels are low. EA will write to you as soon as river levels start falling and again if a restriction is imposed. You must comply with the terms of the restriction until they tell you that river levels are high enough for you to abstract again.
EU vote not to block changes to greening rules
The EU Parliament has voted not to block proposed changes to greening and other elements of BPS rules. The ban on the use of plant protection products on field-based Ecological Focus Area options will therefore come into force. No timescale has been given.
Please be reminded that Dewlap tags, which are inserted through the dewlap of cattle, are legally classed as a mutilation (Animal Welfare Act 2006). Using the dewlap tag is therefore illegal and if farms are found to be using these tags at an RPA or APHA inspection it will be considered a rectifiable breach and will incur a penalty.
Change of NVZ designations
Some NVZ designations are due to be changed in 2017, and the formal notification process and appeals window will begin in the New Year. Appeals will be phased, with the Severn catchment among the first. There have been significant changes in Staffordshire with additional areas added, boundaries have changed in Shropshire and some areas of Worcestershire have been removed.
Go to the website below and select “Nitrate Vulnerable Zones” for further information.
Planned Changes to Farm Animal Movement Rules
Under the new rules you will be able to apply to register all the land you use within a 10 mile radius, whether on a permanent or temporary basis, under the same CPH number. You will be able to move animals around that registered land, within a 10-mile radius, without the need to report movements and without triggering a six-day standstill. Reporting and standstill requirements for livestock movements to other farms or businesses will continue to apply.
• All CTS links will be withdrawn by summer 2017 under the new system. If you have a CTS link you do not need to do anything now. BCMS will contact you before your link is due to expire to explain your options.
• All SOAs will be withdrawn. If you have a SOA you do not need to do anything now. Defra will write to you with further information on the options that will be available to you.
• The Sheep and Goats batch reporting exemption between different holdings within the same business (provided keepership does not change) will be removed.
• The Sheep and Goats adjacent moves reporting exemption (allowing keepers not to report frequent sheep or goat movements to contiguous (adjacent) land on a different holding) will be removed.
• Batch-tagged slaughter sheep and goats will continue to be identified with just their flock number.
The new rules will be introduced from July 2016 and will be phased in over the next year, to be completed by summer/autumn 2017. The sheep and goat movement reporting exemptions will then end on 1 January 2018.
For full details of the new rules and what they will mean for you, please visit the website:
Compulsory Microchipping for all Dogs
With effect from 6th April 2016, it is a legal requirement for all dogs to be microchipped. All dogs aged 8 weeks and over must be microchipped and the microchip must contain up to date contact information.
If your dog does not have a microchip or if your current details are not recorded on an approved database, you could face a fine of up to £500 on conviction.
For further information please visit www.dogstrust.org.uk
Get advice on pesticide safety
April is the beginning of the sowing and spraying season and these activities present their own safety risks. If you are using pesticides check the Health and Safety Executive’s code of practice for advice on how to take precautions when storing, handling, using, keeping records and disposing of pesticides and pesticide waste.
Requirement to get spray equipment tested by Nov 2016
By 26th November 2016, and at regular intervals thereafter, owners of pesticide application equipment in use (except knapsack and handheld sprayers) must ensure it is inspected to certain timetables.
NB Equipment that is not in use or is not used for applying pesticides is not affected
Remember to consider felling licences
Please consider if a felling licence is required from the Forestry Commission before felling trees.
If in doubt please contact Mr Paul Webster, Woodland Officer, Forestry Commission
Grandfather Rights no longer exist
The current exemption for people born before December 31st 1964 for using Plant Protective Products (PPP) authorised for professional use (Grandfather Rights), came to an end on 26th November 2015. Anyone using PPPs for professional use will have to have a Certificate of Competence from a recognised body. This includes use on crops, land, produce, materials and buildings which are owned, occupied or rented by them or their employer.
It is an offence to purchase PPP’s authorised for professional use unless the purchaser has ensured that the intended end user has a certificate. Existing certificates of competence (for example, PA2 and PA6) will remain valid under the new legislation. Anyone who already has one of these will need to do nothing new.
Workplace Pensions Auto Enrolment Scheme
From 1 June 2015 – April 2017 businesses employing less than 30 staff will be required to offer a work place pension under the auto enrolment scheme.
Starting dates are advised by the Government, details about your start date is available by visiting: www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/employers/staging-date.aspx
Further information is available from the Government Website: www.gov.uk/workplace-pensions-employers
New format Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) guidance
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has released its Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) guidance in a new format. There are no changes to the rules, only to the way the rules are presented. The new format guidance appears on four pages covering nutrient management, storing organic manures, using nitrogen fertilisers and grassland derogations in NVZs. Links to the pages appear together on the GOV.UK land management page under the ‘Pollution’ section.
Any comments you have on the new style guidance, which aims to simplify, yet retain the essential guidance provided, would be helpful. To do this select the ‘Contact’ option at the bottom of the page you wish to comment on, and then click the ‘GOV.UK form’ option to provide comments on the page visited. Queries on the rules should be directed to the FAS technical helpline on 0345 345 1302.
Pension Schemes – step by step guide for small businesses
A new step-by-step guide to help small businesses get ready for their automatic enrolment duties has been launched by The Pensions Regulator. The 11-step guide takes employers through the tasks they need to complete and includes the information they require to comply with the law. The online guide also contains information tailored for employers who run director-only companies
Water Abstraction Reminder- Reporting Water abstraction
Farmers who hold abstraction licences are required to record the amount of water they abstract and submit the information to the Environment Agency.
Records of abstraction are generally referred to as ‘returns’. Your return can be, for example, water meter readings or actual volumes abstracted. Depending on their licence conditions and the quantity of water that they are allowed to abstract, most farmers will need to keep weekly or monthly records of the actual amount of water they take and submit annual returns.
If you have any enquiries regarding your water abstraction licence or returns, please contact the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm) or email (email@example.com).
Pre-population of online SA returns from August 2015
Pay, tax and P11D details will start to be pre-populated onto the HMRC version of the online SA return from August and will be found under ‘information we hold about you’, so there won’t be any need to contact HMRC for this information in the future.
Free HMRC online support – letting property to tenants
Our e-learning gives guidance on how income from property is taken into account – see website for more help.
Health & Safety Executive
Using Tractors Safely – A step-by-step guide – download a free copy
This revised step-by-step guide to tractor safety (formerly “Tractor Action”), is for everyone who uses a tractor, or
tractor-operated machinery. It applies to those working in farming, forestry, horticulture, amenity horticulture, and
the sports turf industry. Click on the following link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg185.htm
Common land registers: how to register and deregister common land
Guidance is available at the website below to help you understand the status of common land and how to add or remove commons and greens from the commons register.
Fly-Grazing Law Comes into Effect
New laws to clamp down on people illegally abandoning horses came into force in England on Tuesday 26th May 2015, improving horse welfare standards across the country.
The Control of Horses Act 2015, makes changes to the law to deter people from illegally grazing or simply abandoning horses on public and private land, which is known as „fly-grazing‟.
As many as 3,000 horses are thought to be illegally fly-grazing across the country. The changes mean horse owners who fly-graze their animals without permission can now be dealt with more quickly and effectively.
Under the previous Animals Act 1971 an abandoned horse could only be disposed of after 14 days through sale at market or public auction. The new Act means fly-grazing horses have to be reported to police within 24 hours, and owners now have four days to claim their animals.
Previously, an abandoned horse could only be disposed of through sale at market or public auction. The new law extends the options for dealing with abandoned horses, which now include private sale, gifting and rehoming.
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We use text messages to send reminders of approaching key dates for cross compliance. To register for FREE text message updates, please call 0345 345 1302 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Register for text updates’ in the subject line. Remember to include your name and mobile phone number in the message. Your details will not be shared with any third parties.
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To receive further copies of the FREE bimonthly FAS newsletter, please call 0345 345 1302 or email email@example.com with ‘Register for newsletter’ in the subject line.
Animal welfare requirements under cross compliance
If you keep any animal for agricultural purposes, you have a legal obligation to protect its welfare by ensuring appropriate standards of care and husbandry. This is also a requirement under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and failure to comply may lead to a reduction in your payments.
The requirements include:
• Regular inspection of the animals by staff that have the correct skills and knowledge. The frequency will depend upon the amount of human attention required by your husbandry system and there are specific minimum rules for certain livestock sectors including calves (SMR11). Sick or injured animals must be cared for appropriately without delay. They may need isolation and additional advice from a vet must be sought if their condition does not improve.
• Maintenance of on-farm records, detailing medicinal treatment provided to animals and any deaths. It is important that these records are retained for three years from the date of the treatment and/or inspection.
• Ensure that appropriate accommodation is provided for the animals, with sufficient space and the ability to move freely. The environment should be clean and free from materials that can injure or cause harm to the animal. Buildings should be correctly ventilated and lit with artificial light if there is insufficient daylight.
• Suitable feed and water must be provided. The animals must be fed a wholesome diet, free from substances that can cause harm, and they must have access to a suitable water supply.
• You must not carry out any mutilation or intervention on your animals, unless the action is classed as a ‘permitted procedure’, and you must not carry out breeding procedures that are likely to cause harm.
• Protect animals kept outdoors by providing adequately drained lying land and protection from the weather, predators and other risks to their health.
Further guidance on animal welfare requirements can be located under Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs) 11 – 13 in ‘The guide to cross compliance in England 2015’.
Integrated Pest Management – are you complying with the requirements?
Regulation (EC) No. 1107/2009 applies in every EU country and requires pesticide users to ensure that plant protection products are applied ‘properly’. Proper use includes those applying pesticides in a professional capacity to follow the principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) set out in The Sustainable Use (of Pesticides) Directive 2009/128/EC.
What is Integrated Pest Management?
The Directive defines IPM as the careful consideration of all available plant protection methods and integration of appropriate measures to discourage the development of populations of harmful organisms. It aims to keep the use of all forms of control to levels that are economically and ecologically justified, and reduce or minimise risks to human health and the environment. IPM emphasises the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control.
What are the general principles of IPM?
The general principles include:
• preventing or suppressing the development of populations of harmful organisms (for example, through; crop rotation; the use of cultivation techniques, resistant varieties, balanced fertilisation, irrigation/drainage practice and hygiene measures; and protecting and enhancing beneficial organisms);
• using forecasting and monitoring systems to assess pest pressures and using thresholds (where available) to decide whether and when to apply controls;
• giving preference to non-chemical methods if they provide a satisfactory method of control;
• using pesticides which pose least risk to human health and the environment;
• keeping use of all methods of control to levels that are necessary (in the case of pesticides this may involve reducing dose rates), while being mindful of the need to avoid the development of resistance and adopt anti-resistance strategies;
• assessing the effectiveness of controls.
What should you do to comply with the IPM requirements?
IPM Plans (IPMP) can help you to adopt an integrated approach. They can also help farmers to demonstrate due diligence in meeting the obligation to take all reasonable precautions to protect human health and the environment when using pesticides. An IPMP can help to demonstrate that risks have been carefully assessed and that as part of the control regime different ways of controlling pests, weeds and diseases have been considered. The plan may also be useful evidence for farm assurance schemes and cross compliance inspections.
Where can you obtain an IPMP?
The NFU and Voluntary Initiative (VI) have developed an IPMP that can be used by farmers to demonstrate compliance with the IPM requirements. This is a free tool and once completed, a copy of the plan will be emailed to you. The plan can then be printed and retained with other farm records.
It is important to review the plan regularly, with a thorough annual review. If you have a BASIS registered adviser, they may be able to assist with completing and reviewing the IPMP.
New rules for septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants
As part of ongoing efforts to improve water quality and reduce pollution, new rules were introduced in January to simplify the way septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants are regulated in England. Households and businesses with septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants are responsible for meeting the legal requirements, which are called ‘general binding rules’, by ensuring their systems are maintained properly and do not cause pollution.
The Environment Agency expects that most people will be able to follow the rules and use their septic tank or treatment plant without needing a permit. The main exception to this is in areas designated as ‘environmentally sensitive’, where additional measures are needed to prevent pollution and the systems may need permits.
It is easy to comply with the new rules – here are the main requirements:
• Systems must not cause pollution and should be emptied (desludged) at least once a year.
• You must check how much the system discharges by looking at the online guidance (www.gov.uk/permits-you-need-for-septic-tanks/calculate-discharge). The discharge limit is a maximum of 2,000 litres of treated sewage per day into the ground or 5,000 litres per day into flowing water – a permit is required for quantities greater than these.
• Faults or problems must be fixed immediately.
• You must speak to the Environment Agency before installing a new system to check if a permit is required. A new system must meet British Standards for septic tanks and sewage treatment plants that were in place at the time it was installed (currently BS EN 12566). Your local council should be consulted to check that it meets planning requirements and complies with Building Regulations.
Visit www.gov.uk/small-sewage-rules to read the ‘general binding rules’ in full.
Paper copies are also available on request from the Environment Agency by calling 03708 506 506 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can check if your property is in a designated sensitive area or whether you require a permit by calling the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506.
If you are concerned that a septic tank or sewage treatment plant is causing pollution, call the Environment Agency’s incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.
Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations
The aim of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) (Agriculture) Regulations is to protect uncultivated and semi-natural areas from damage caused by agricultural works. Compliance with the Regulations is covered by the new cross-compliance rules under GAEC 6 (Maintenance of soil organic matter). Failure to adhere to the rules is a breach of Basic Payment Scheme (BPS). GAEC 6 states that “You must comply with the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations (EIA) (2006) (Regulations 4, 9, 26 and 28) and the Environmental Impact Assessment (Forestry) (England and Wales) Regulations (1999) (Regulations 4(1) and 22). You can’t plough, cultivate or intensify species-rich and semi-natural habitats so as to keep organic matter and carbon levels in soils”.
To comply with the Regulations, a screening decision must be obtained from Natural England prior to an ‘uncultivated land project’ being started or carried out on an area of land of two or more hectares. An ‘uncultivated land project’ is a project that increases the agricultural productivity of an uncultivated or a semi-natural area. Land is judged to be uncultivated if, for the last 15 years, it has not been physically cultivated (such as ploughing and sub-surface harrowing) or chemically cultivated (such as applying fertilisers and soil improvers). ‘Semi-natural areas’ include bracken; species-rich hay meadow; fen, marsh and swamp; bog; semi-natural scrub; dwarf shrub heath; wet grassland in coastal and river flood plains; unimproved grassland; and standing water.
If your land falls within the definition above, you will need to contact the Natural England EIA team prior to undertaking work to increase the productivity of the land. The team can be contacted on 0800 028 2140 or email@example.com.
In some instances, Natural England may consider that a project falling below the EIA thresholds will, nonetheless, have a significant effect on the environment and an EIA will need to be carried out. In such cases, Natural England has the power to issue a screening notice that removes one or more of the thresholds and requires a screening application to be made.
Farmers are reminded that removing trees and woodland may be a project under the EIA (Forestry) Regulations. Before considering any tree or woodland removal, please contact your local Forestry Commission office
Protecting your soils post-harvest
Under the new cross compliance rule, Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC 5), there is a requirement to have minimum land management that reflects site-specific conditions to limit erosion. It is important that you select the correct post-harvest options to ensure that land harvested by a combine harvester or mower is left in a state where erosion is unlikely. Suitable options are provided on page 8 of the ‘Cross compliance in England: soil protection standards 2015’.
The new rules for soils are applicable to all Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) claimants and certain Pillar II claimants. Therefore, it is important that you are aware of how to comply with the requirements to safeguard your payments. FAS has produced an article that provides top tips for compliance with the updated soil management requirements. If you require further advice regarding soil management on your farm, please contact FAS on 0345 345 1302 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Help with Rules, Regulations and Record Keeping
If you are unsure about details of any rules or regulations or want help with understanding record keeping, please remember that free advice and help is always available from the Green Futures Team – Farming Advice Service, Natural England, CLA , NFU, & the Environment Agency.
Getting advice and assistance from those that know the details of the rules will help ensure your business stays compliant. You may be cautious about asking for help from a regulatory body such as the Environment Agency, but they are always willing to advise and help you.
Warwickshire Rural Hub can help signpost which organisation can help you.
Don’t hold back from asking for help. It’s free and could save your single farm payment.
Useful Contacts for Advice, Help & Support:
Farming Advice Service 0845 345 1302 email@example.com
Natural England 0300 060 1115
Environment Agency 03708 506506
NFU Luke Ryder 07766745495
Farm Crisis Network 0845 3679990
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